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UPDATES: Project Bacon & Eat Like a Girl, the Next Evolution

As one door closes, another opens.

As one door closes, another opens.

This year has been a a year of surprises and challenges. A difficult year, when I look back I see myself overwhelmed, sometimes panicking and all consumed with Project Bacon, but you know what? It is nearly there. We have the final photography days this week and then my creative portion will be almost complete. The rest doesn’t worry me so much. My art director is brilliant, as is my editor, and my book could not be in better hands. I will switch my attention to more practical matters like printing and distribution, which will be a relief after all of the angst that writing a book can bring.

The hardest bit with writing a book is that bit that you should love the most. The manuscript. When in the zone it can be wonderful, but more often than not it is torture. Writers block, panic, fear, too much time alone, constant reassessment of your work, frustration, and ultimately a book that was at times painful to write, but one that you are proud of, and want everyone to have.

Nearly there, still in the trauma portion.

It is clear that I undertook a project much bigger than what I realised, and it wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, but at the same time as I was, everything else became very busy too. And that everything else is what pays my rent, and keeps everything stable, so it is very important too. Project Bacon was always my priority, but it generates no income yet, and in the end has cost much more than I forecast (as with every project, ever, I know).

Looking back now I can see that through pushing myself very hard all year, braving the waves of total overwhelming panic, not sleeping enough, not looking after my health and seeing so much more of the world, and all for work reasons, I am in a much better place now. I look at my work and think, YES, this is where I wanted to be, and it was traumatic getting here but I now see what needs to stay and what needs to go.

There are things that I do, but they are not practical, and they need to stop. I need to work smarter so that I can have more downtime. I still want to be the sole writer here, but I want it to grow, so I am working that out now. This blog is almost 8 years old, and while it has grown with me over the last almost 8 years, it needs to change too. I travel more, and am at home less, and Eat Like a Girl will reflect that a bit more. There will also be more work with sponsored partners (but more content around it as I go). As always I will tell you here first, as I always value your feedback.

Once Project Bacon is complete, all energy becomes refocussed here and also on myself (I have already initiated a health kick which I will share here as I go). Content will be more regular, there will be a kick ass redesign which brings it more up to date, there will be lots more recipes and more travel stories. I have a another project which I will wait to announce in a few weeks, maybe early next year, and things will make a lot more sense then. [Read more]

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Almond Crusted Tuna with Chilli Roast Pumpkin, Wilted Lettuce, Tomato & Curry Leaves

Tina

Almond Crusted Tuna with Chilli Roast Pumpkin, Wilted Lettuce, Tomato & Curry Leaves

Almond crusted tuna frequently pops up my idea periscope when my mind wanders. I first had it in Sicily a few years ago in San Vito Lo Capo, when I was a judge for the International Cous Cous Festival (yes, I really was, and it was bonkers, and a lot of delicious fun). There are many almonds in Sicily, pistachios too, and they appear a lot in the cuisine. Almond crusted tuna was one of my favourite dishes that I tried, a fabulous alternative to breaded fish, the tuna remains crisp and is – obviously – nutty.[Read more]

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Next Stop: Sabah & Brunei

What a week! A very good week, I spent the bulk of it at World Travel Market in London, where I met lots of inspiring people and spoke about food & travel blogging. 4 full days, and a blissful early night followed, so rare, and very much needed. I am shattered, but I have lots to do, for I am going to Sabah and Burnei on Sunday. And that is exciting, isn’t it?

Sabah is new to me, in Malaysian Borneo, and a whole new world of food is waiting to greet me. Many of you will know it already, and possibly have even been to a wedding there, as many people travel to marry on their tropical shores. We start in Kota Kinabulu, and explore Sabah from there. I will be doing lots, highlights among these being lots of terrific eating, a cooking class, visiting markets, heading into the jungle, and I am very excited that we are going to see some Orang Utans at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.


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Cardamom and Turmeric Chicken Curry

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Today has been stressful. Yesterday was worse. Because of stupid but unavoidable things, in isolation fine, together brain stuffing. Delayed planes, trains and automobiles (yes, all three), a broken front door, mysteriously vanished side gate, and lots of other dull stuff. My brain was starting to tense, my heart was pounding and I was being taken away by fury, a red mist.

What a bloody nightmare, eh? What to do? Sort the essentials, ignore the rest, withdraw from the world for a bit, and think of curry.

Chicken curry to be precise, I don’t think you can beat it if it is made right. A nice plump chicken from a happy home, whatever cut you fancy, or the lot. I bought a small bird, brought it home and removed it from the carcass, which I will use soon for stock along with the chicken skin and wings. I removed the leg, thigh and breast, the legs I kept whole, the rest I diced chunkily, and added all of the meat to a creamy turmeric bath. I love fresh turmeric, but dried will do, added to yogurt and chilli, the colour and the possibilities lifted my spirits. I put it in the fridge and let it rest.

After a couple of hours, and I was starting to feel better, I sautéed some finely chopped onion in some coconut oil (any oil will do, I had that). It soothed me to see it gently sink into the oil and release its own tension. I gave it time and cooked it gently, until soft. Then I added ginger, garlic, and more fresh chilli. I toasted some spice, cardamom seeds, cloves and black pepper. I ground them until a powder, and added them to my onion mix.

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Homemade Matcha Soba Noodles & A Recipe for Matcha Mari Soba

Matcha noodles! Well, why wouldn’t you make them? You surely want to try them. I had the good fortune of eating superb matcha soba when I was in Kyoto last year, and they pop up from my memory to say hi frequently. Sure, you can buy green tea / matcha noodles in speciality shops here, and they are decent, but they are not a patch on the real thing. Of course. But, then you hear that it takes 3 years to learn soba making, 32 years to perfect it (!) and that it is very tricky. But you know what, you still really want to give it a go. Right?

Right.

Let us get down to the details. There are two things that we need to think about here. Soba and matcha. Soba means buckwheat or buckwheat noodle in Japanese. Buckwheat isn’t actually a grain, it is a seed that is grain like, and is not related in anyway to grass, it is actually closely related to rhubarb and sorrel (both very characterful plants, as is buckwheat). It has no gluten, so it takes skill and knowledge, the kind of knowledge that lives in your muscles and your palms, after years of getting to understand soba dough, to get the buckwheat to combine so elegantly with water to form noodles. Not just any old noodles but noodles that you would get on a train across town for, maybe even to another city, maybe even on a plane to Japan.
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VIDEO: Cooking Salt Aged Steaks Japanese Style & Tempura Prawn and Vegetables (In Partnership with Marks & Spencer)

A few weeks ago I met up with Marks & Spencer’s experts Tom (M&S Buyer of Beef, Lamb & Game) & John (M&S Food Innovations Chef) to cook some of their award winning salt aged sirloin beef, Japanese style with some tempura prawn and vegetables.

We had a great afternoon and made some terrific food that was uncomplicated and really delicious (yes, I said delicious, it was), using ingredients that are available in your local Marks & Spencer (yes, even those Japanese ingredients). I think you will like these recipes a lot, they are deceptively easy and impressive. Perfect for a crowd or a weekday evening. Check out the presentation too, I am so stealing that idea. Thanks, John!

The recipes are fairly straight forward. You can see how John puts together the steak (and how easy and impressive it is) in the video. I will share the tempura recipe with you now, but take a look at the video too to see how easy it is and also to see how golden you want it.

Enjoy!

RECIPE: Prawn & Vegetable Tempura
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Sunday Bacon Club at Wilderness Festival and Eat Like a Girl at Blogstock

SUNDAY BACON CLUB AT WILDERNESS

Some exciting news: this year, I am bringing Sunday Bacon Club to Wilderness. Wilderness is an ace food focussed music festival (hooray!) in Oxford, and it doesn’t stop there, it also has lots of theatre, small stages with more eclectic stuff, a roller disco, a spa, yoga and wild swimming. Fun!

I went last year as a punter and had a wonderful time, highlights of which were breakfasts at St John and feasts at Hix & Polpo (there were also feasts from Moro & Ottolenghi), lots of music and dancing, a fantastic French circus thing and late nights down in the woods revelling. I was keen to go back this year and happily an email popped into my inbox. Would I be keen to bring Sunday Bacon Club to the Wilderness Cookery School this year? Well, YES, I would.

Tickets for Wilderness are on sale now (it always sells out so be speedy), as are tickets for Sunday Bacon Club. It is a shorter class than normal at a bargain £40. I am so looking forward to it. Feasts (immense marquee banquets) this year are from Angela Hartnett, Simon Rogan, Polpo, Hix, Moro & Morito. St John are doing a la carte too. And some are sold out already.

My posts from last year, to refresh your memory!
Feasting at Wilderness Part 1: St John Breakfasts, Moro Afternoons & Polpo’s Venetian Banquet
Feasting at Wilderness Part 2: Sunday Lunch at Hix

EAT LIKE A GIRL AT BLOGSTOCK

blog stock - original

I have been invited to host and curate all of the food content for the world’s first bloggers festival, Blogstock. Unlike most blogging events, it is multi-discplinary, and is a great opportunity to meet and collaborate outside of our own niches. It will be held in Elstree, just outside of London.[Read more]

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Some Changes to the Blog

I posted recently some thoughts on blogging, and I have been thinking a lot since. I have been chatting to contemporaries in the UK and also on my travels about how they make things work. Sometimes, as much as I love this, I find that the work that pays my rent takes so much of my energy that I have little left to pour in here. I never expected that when I went full time. The truth is, I am a full time food bod but not a full time blogger, and when recently I couldn’t blog for 3 weeks because of other distractions, that really made me think.

I have also been talking to people in advertising and business. Like every other established blogger I get pitched to many times a day and often that is exhausting too, because it is rarely beneficial and almost never relevant. But that has become smarter too, and I have recently started having conversations with a couple of agencies who get blogging and bloggers and don’t try to compromise them in any way when they work with them. What they want is great content that is associated with a brand, and they will work it out with a blogger so that everyone is happy. This takes time, but it is worth it.

The reality is this. Right now, as I ease into my eighth year here, I want it to be better and I want it to be the centre. I want to love it as much as I did in Year 1. I want to upgrade everything. I want to do videos, get a better camera, upgrade the design. To do this I need money.

Bloggers, blogging and money always feels a dirty subject, but why should it? You aren’t surprised to see advertising and advertorials in your favourite magazines and newspapers. Why not apply that logic to a blog? Is it that bloggers aren’t trusted to manage this, that this is always handled by an advertising team? Well, this way, that I am describing, I now have an advertising team, an agency that I have chosen to work with, I create content for them, and they help me work out which advertorials and brands work well with me.

So, the hope is this. By doing occasional advertorial work, I can support myself better, and have more energy to pour in here. That means: improved design and search functionality, more content, more recipes, more travel content (I want to do comprehensive travel guides that you can reference when you travel), and more recipe content from the times when I travel. I have so many recipes gathered from my travels that I have not had time to share with you here yet.

I know this won’t bother regular readers, you have always supported me before. But I want to be clear and transparent. So when there is sponsored content, I will mark that clearly at the top. My first one, which will be published immediately after this, is a piece that I worked on for Hellman’s Mayonnaise. The agency that I mentioned asked if I would be willing to work with them on an advertising campaign spread out across many blogs. They wanted me to come up with a list of my ten favourite sandwiches, make them, and photograph them. There was no steer on anything, everything was entirely my choice. I am really happy with the results and you will see it across the blogosphere as advertising, and also as my next post.

Here is to the future. Which I hope is brighter and easier. Bear with me as I learn while I go.

 

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Into My Eighth Year & Greetings from South Africa & #Stellenblog

I just logged on to write a post to let you know what I am up to. And then I spotted a message from wordpress, letting me know that yesterday I headed into my eighth year blogging. How exciting is that? I never remember. Blogging, and this blog in particular, has opened the world up to me, brought some brilliant people into my life and made everything that bit more interesting. Thank you for reading and your lovely comments. I really enjoy them.

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Well Hello! Accidentally Wading Into Debate, Sydney, The Greening, Mudgee. And As You Were. Or As I Was.

The Opera House in Sydney, photo taken from Quay restaurant

The Opera House in Sydney, photo taken from Quay restaurant

Hello there! Pull up a seat. How has everything been with you? Where have I been? Oh…

I really don’t like reading blogs that apologise for their absence. Why? This isn’t a newspaper, I don’t have an editor, I blog when I can and when I want to, and I would love to blog more. It becomes difficult though, when external pressures (book writing, bacon boxes, travel and other work that pays the rent and keeps me in Gremlins t-shirts). And here I am apologising, it seems. I just can’t help myself.

I am the sole writer here, and it will always be that way. That does limit content, and that is ok, as I am a big ole control freak, and I want everything to be just so and exactly as I saw it in my brain. Plus, this isn’t a place for food and travel stories, it is a place for my food and travel stories. I want to keep it that way. Ahem.

Blogging is a funny animal. When I started there was a few, and now there are a lot, which is great. But, I feel that there are a lot of people outside of blogging who want to define what a good blog is without maybe understanding blogging at all, and that creates pressure for bloggers (including me), when it shouldn’t.

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Project: BACON – Finally, You Can Pre-Order a Copy – And More Bacon Boxes

In a frenetic spurt of activity, I was overjoyed when I succeeded in crowd funding my next book – a book about bacon and bacon only, curing your own, brilliant brunches, afternoon tea (yes! salted caramel bacon eclair grab you?), home curing, cocktails, suppers and sweets – and I have been working on it since.

The initial publication date was scheduled for February, but as long term readers may know, my Dad passed away last Autumn just after the funding run finished, and so I had to put everything on hold for a short while. Now, I am close to completing and sending my manuscript to my ever patient editor. We will start photography once my photographer has finished working on a cookbook by a very-famous-baker-that-you-all-know-and-love. AHEM. My photographer, Georgia Glynn Smith is wonderful, and very much in demand. She shot my first cookbook, Comfort & Spice too.

Project: BACON on Kickstarter

Project: BACON on Kickstarter

Lots of you missed the Kickstarter and were disappointed. The money raised covered a first limited edition print run that is available only to the Kickstarter supporters. Most of the funds were diverted to book production, printing and postage, but also to the bacon boxes which were far more popular than I could have imagined (and I am thrilled that they have been well received too). These have also eaten into the timeline somewhat as they take so much time. I am learning lessons all the time.

I have been trying to figure out how I could raise funds for a second print run before the book was published and on sale. I had a complex new business idea that I really wanted to roll out, but I don’t have the time to right now (I will, though). The answer in the end was simple. Another brilliant start up that supports the start up and Kickstarter community – Shopstarter –  allows pre-orders for successful Kickstarter projects. I set it up immediately, and now you can get involved too.

Pre-order Project: BACON wit or without a bacon box on Shopstarter

Pre-order Project: BACON wit or without a bacon box on Shopstarter

The second print run will be printed one month after the first Kickstarter print run, currently scheduled for June 2014. Here are your options:[Read more]

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2013 in Review – Your Favourite Recipes, My Travels, Project: BACON and Plans for 2014

Hello Everyone! I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas, and that it was full of delicious food & drink, joyous nostalgia and as few arguments as possible (lets face it, we all have them).

I did little in the run up to Christmas here, for a few reasons, one was that I just wasn’t feeling it (I will explain in a bit), the other was that I was furiously making 75 bacon boxes for Kickstarter Project: BACON supporters, to ensure that they were received just in time, and in the best, freshest shape possible. I have 160 more to make in the New Year, and I am still writing the book. But, I am very nearly there, and I am excited.

2013 was in some respects wonderful and exciting, and in others very difficult. I travelled a lot, and learned much from it, spending time in places that I love like Japan, Thailand, Peru & Australia, as well as many European cities. I went to Canada again, and finally to Newfoundland where I uncovered their connection to my home, via the blaa, I saw gibbons in the wild in Brunei. Wonderful.

I cooked, every day at least when I was at home, and often when abroad too. Your favourite recipes from the last year were Bajan Pepper SauceThai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango, Homemade Rhubarb Cordial & Siri’s Thai Seafood Green Curry Recipe Step by Step with Photos. Many from the past are still getting lots of attention like Roast Pork Belly, cooked simplyButternut Squash, Chickpea and Spinach CurryRich Roast Duck Legs (Chinese Style)Chicken and Chorizo PiePrawn Curry & Spaghetti Corkese (Spaghetti with Black Pudding & Tomato Sauce).

I took a risk and decided not to pitch my second book to a publisher, but to produce and publish it myself. I made this choice because I wanted to do something different and with complete creative control. It would have been much easier in many ways to go with a publisher, but I really just wanted to give it a go. I funded it on Kickstarter, and I am, as ever, grateful for your support.

I am almost finished the book now, and hope to publish it in late Spring. First it must be edited, designed and photographed before being sent to the printers. It has been a great experience in many respects, I need to do so much more, and I have learned quite a few things which will be valuable for the future. This project, and its evolution, has also shaped my plans in 2014.

My father, in his youth

My father, in his youth

Not long after Project: BACON was successfully funded, my Dad passed away. It wasn’t a surprise in many ways, but despite being ill, he was doing well. In the end he went peacefully in the night. Aged only 61, his heart stopped, and that was it. So, I went home for the best part of a month over two trips, before returning and contacting my Project: BACON team, explaining that everything now needed to pause for a bit. There is not much that I want to say about this at this point, but it will, I hope, explain my absence and frequent silence.

So, I am planning a quiet calm evening, so that I can let 2013 pass gently from my life. 2014, I am ready for you now. I have plans, lots of them, and this year I am going to make them happen. The first of which will be a further evolution of Project: BACON, and I will be announcing it in mid February, once Project: BACON is written and in hands that will beautify it and edit it, and when I have everything for the next phase researched and it is ready to roll. As for this blog, I have such a long list of recipes to share and so many travel stories too.

See you all soon. Happy New Year, and have a great evening, whatever you choose to do.

Bacon Fudge
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Bacon Masterclasses: Last Ones for 2013! Book Your Place Now.

Aveqia - new space for bacon masterclasses in Farringdon

Aveqia – new space for bacon masterclasses in Farringdon

LAST BACON MASTERCLASSES FOR OCTOBER, NOVEMBER, DECEMBER – BOOK NOW

Ok folks! Dramatic yes, but necessarily so. I am calling an end to my bacon masterclasses this year. They are simply too expensive for me to run. But I want to teach a few more before I stop and also I want to share some of the new Project: BACON recipes through them. So, if you want to book, do so now.

All places booked between now and Friday will be sold at early bird prices (£75 vs £95). I just don’t have the time to manage any admin right now, and would rather fill them (or as close to as possible), and then see you all there.

THE SCHOOL

I will be teaching them at a wonderful new cookery school in central London, Aveqia. The school is very central, based near Farringdon and is beautiful. The original school is in Sweden and the same elegant Scandinavian design has been used here, and as you would expect, it is a thoughtfully designed and very useful space. Those Swedes know what they are doing.

The kitchen is large and spacious with lots of room and all the kit I could need, even a paco jet for making maple bacon, bourbon & vanilla ice cream. After we can all sit down at a large communal & very sociable space to eat and indulge in some bacon bloody marys.

The classes will be hosted on Saturdays only, and I am expanding the class concept to include a sit down brunch after the Bacon Masterclass. The classes are more expensive to run but I would still like to keep the classes accessibly priced, so I am going to be offering the first 6 early bird places for £75 with the remaining 10 places at £95. The prices must unfortunately go up to meet my increased costs.

Aveqia Cooking School in Farringdon, London

Aveqia Cooking School in Farringdon, London

THE CLASS

Each bacon masterclass will start at 10am with bacon jam on toast and tea / coffee and finish at 2pm after brunch with a bacon bloody mary. There will be 3 hours cooking. All classes are hands on and you will have a lot of support. The recipes are explicitly detailed and even where complex, very easy to follow. I am there to help and teach at all classes, of course. Cooking is core, but there are not just about cooking, they are also a lot of fun. You will be comfortable, I can promise you that.

Sounds good? I think so.

The recipes will vary, but the core recipes will be:

– chipotle bacon jam
– candied bacon
– bacon jam fudge
– candied bacon marshmallow creme

The classes will be on:

Sat 26th Oct
Sat 16th Nov
Sat 14th Dec

… and that will be it. (There will be classes in Ireland, Belfast and Yorkshire next year as part of Project: BACON, but none scheduled for London as yet).

So, please email me at niamh@eatlikeagirl.com and I will send you details on how to pay and book you in.

Bacon Fudge

Bacon Fudge

Bacon Fudge

Bacon Fudge

Bacon Chocolate Bourbon Truffles

Bacon Chocolate Bourbon Truffle

Morito, Exmouth Market, London
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London: Seafood Festival at Morito

Morito, Exmouth Market, London

Morito, Exmouth Market, London

London is a very big city. That is not news but it frequently annoys me. It is the best and worst thing about London. I love that I can pop across to the other side of London and have a whole new and interesting experience. I also hate that I have to do that. I am a bit spoiled by it, I think we all are.

Morito Seafood Festival Menu

Morito Seafood Festival Menu

I used to live in the North East of London, so popping to Morito for tapas and a swift sherry was always easy. I have written about Morito before, if you are new and unaware of it, Morito is the smaller sibling of Moro, and is just next door. Now that I am down sarf, popping to Moro is a little trickier. It needs to be planned, and you know I hate to plan anything (as much of a key skill that is for any sociable Londoner). However, Morito’s annual seafood festival is a must, so I made sure I didn’t miss it.

Fino at Morito

Fino at Morito

Morito’s Seafood Festival runs only until October 6th. Lots of dishes that aren’t on the regular menu are available, and suggested sherry matches too. This year the menu isn’t set (as it was last year) so you can go a bit meaty too and I suggest that you do. The chicharrones de cádiz are unmissable (tender melting pork belly spiked with cumin and lemon) and the lamb chops are excellent too (I didn’t have the lamb chops this time but I have many others). The prices are very good, and you will want to order a lot. Do that too. I would suggest booking a table too (at lunchtime only – dinner is first come first served), as it is popular and always busy.

Gilda - pincho of anchovy, olive and guindilla chilli

Gilda – pincho of anchovy, olive and guindilla chilli – spiky and rich. Perfect appetiser.

Ceviche - wild sea bass ceviche with seaweed, dill, sesame and cucumber

Ceviche – wild sea bass ceviche with seaweed, dill, sesame and cucumber – the cucumber acted as a delicate relish and the seaweed emphasises the taste of the sea and freshness of the fish

Octopus with Potatoes

Pulpo a la Gallega – Octopus with Potatoes – slow cooked tender octopus with spiced potatoes

Montadito de cangrejo - toast with crab and oloroso sherry

Montadito de cangrejo – toast with crab and oloroso sherry – the oloroso added a layer of richness

Puntillitas - deep fried baby squid

Puntillitas – deep fried baby squid – perfect tiny octopus – loved this

Tortilla

Tortilla – one of the best in London

Quail eggs with cumin and sea salt

Quail eggs with cumin and sea salt

Chicharrones de cádiz – pork belly, cumin & lemon

Chicharrones de cádiz – pork belly, cumin & lemon – a must have – yielding fatty pork belly with a spiked cumin & lemon crust

Morito, 32 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QE

http://www.morito.co.uk/ 

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This Weekend in London: Meatopia. Don’t Miss It.

Josh Ozersky

Josh Ozersky

I may be in Lima in Peru (and really loving it), but a chunk of my food loving soul is very sad not to be in London as I will miss Meatopia. Meatopia is the meaty brainchild of Josh Ozersky, James Beard award winning food writer. We were always going to get along.

As Josh says in the recent brilliant Vice Munchies video  (which you must watch), “Every aspect of my life is utterly immersed and overflowing with the juice of literature and the love of food”. Starting out as an academic and historian, he was diverted to food by his passion and knowledge, and started with the well respected delicious tome Meet Me In Manhattan: A Carnivore’s Guide to New York City. He hasn’t stopped since, and we are all very happy about that.

A snippet of what you can expect

A snippet of what you can expect (a tri-tip from Grillstock)

I met Josh when he was in London, and here follows a little about Josh, where you must hit at Meatopia, and some grill tips.

Tell me a little about your meat obsession?

I have, from a very early age, identified as a meat-eater. My tiny hands clutched
sausages and steaks from infancy onward, like Hercules strangling the steaks in
his crib. A long and unhappy life followed, which caused me to be a writer and a
glutton and I have brought these arts to bare on a great meat event — possibly the
greatest in history.

I know everything will be awesome, but give me a top 5 hit list for people to check out?

Tim Byres’ whole hog; Richard Turners ribeye cap with anchovy butter; Aaron
Franklin’s brisket, and of course Fergus Henderson’s meat magic…

Any grill tips for novices / amateurs?

Cook with wood or lump charcoal only, ever, with no exceptions; cover everything
with a LOT of kosher salt; and cook fast over wicked heat, finishing on the cold side
if necessary. That’s it. also, you can only end with good meat if you start with good meat.

Go to Meatopia if you love meat and a little fun. I would be there, if I could. And watch this.

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International Bacon Day Tomorrow! Book Bacon Masterclasses in Dublin & London to Celebrate

International Bacon Day: Breakfast?

It is International Bacon Day tomorrow! On International Bacon Day last year, I was on the Theatre of Food stage at Electric Picnic teaching a Bacon Masterclass. Wot larks. This year I am back there again, and will be celebrating in the most bacontastic way possible, which I have yet to discover. There is always great food there, so I am sure I will be fine.

What can you do? Any one of these :)

Make one my my bacon jam recipes (the rest are saved for Project: BACON next February), and have it with your eggs on the morning. Blitz it fine and spread it thickly on your toast soldiers to dip into a quivering egg.

Make my Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Truffles for afters. You really should. I don’t even need to explain why.

Book a bacon masterclass in London! I have not had much time to promote them and have yet to set up the ticket system so, the deal is, in my new super swish school the classes are longer and include bacon brunch, so the prices have had to go up to a still-very-competitive £95 for 4 hours (as opposed to £75 for 3).

However, the first 6 places are early bird and at the original £75, and in the interest of celebrating International Bacon Day AND filling the class as quickly as I can, I will offer the places at the £75 early bird price to any of the classes to anyone who books them between now and Tuesday 3rd September.

Email me and don’t panic if I don’t get back immediately as I shall be mooching around a very large field seeking bacon, wine and great music. Dates and details here (in summary: Sat 21st Sept, Sat 26th Oct, Sat 16th Nov, Sat 14th Dec 10am – 2pm). First come first serve – email niamh at eatlikeagirl dot com.

Book a bacon masterclass in DUBLIN! A rare opportunity to attend a class in Dublin and at a bargainous €60, this 2 and a half hour class will reveal plenty of my bacon secrets with tastings and wine. It will be fun, you will take all the recipes and bacon secrets home with you, and I will also be selling signed copies of Comfort & Spice and taking pre orders for Project: BACON. Book here. 

The class will be taught by me and hosted by Robert Jacob at The Cookery School @ Donnybrook Fair in Donnybrook, Dublin 4 on 18th September 2013 from 7.00 pm – 930 pm. Limited spaces.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL BACON DAY! (and don’t forget the maple syrup :)

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Feasting at Wilderness Part 2: Sunday Lunch at Hix

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Live music in the centre of the banqueting tent while we ate our Hix Sunday lunch

Back once more to Wilderness and the memory of one of the most fun and delicious Sunday lunches that I have had in a while. The scene is the Banqueting Tent once more, and the chef this time, Mark Hix. Solid English cooking, more live music, the sun, and a hangover that I needed to work my way out of. Standard for a festival, isn’t it? This was medicinal, and a reminder that I need to revisit his restaurants in London again (and try the ones that I have not yet been to).

The food served was bright and vibrant, and how I love to eat. Big platters shared in the centre of the table and lots of everything. And who doesn’t love a roast chicken on a Sunday? The whipped broad beans were a revelation, but everything was good. As with the Polpo feast the night before this was generous and big. Wilderness know how to do food at a festival, I will be back next year.

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Evesham Radishes with Mayonnaise and Celery Salt

Moyallon Pork Crackling with Bramley Apple Sauce

Moyallon Pork Crackling with Bramley Apple Sauce

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De Beauvoir Smoked Salmon – Hix cure – with Corrigan’s Soda Bread

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Jellied Ham Hock with Picalilli

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Whipped Broad Beans with Grilled Flatbread

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Tramshed Chicken with Baked Garlic Sauce

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Fruits of the Forest Eton Mess

This post follows on from my first Wilderness post: Feasting at Wilderness Part 1: St John Breakfasts, Moro Afternoons & Polpo’s Venetian Banquet

With thanks to Wilderness who invited me to attend the festival 

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Project: BACON on Kickstarter. Liftoff and Lessons Learned.

Project: BACON Overview

Project: BACON Overview

Project: BACON is go. I am so excited & relieved. It takes 2 weeks for the Kickstarter project to mature and funds to transfer (minus taxes and all that jazz), so I am using that time to plan, sketch budgets and figure out exactly what I can do. It has been quite an experience, good and bad (mainly good and very positive), and I thought that I would share with you some thoughts and some things that I learned as I know that you are curious and some of you are considering this as a route for your own publishing (and other) projects.

Firstly, do use Kickstarter. I took a risk, I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I knew I wanted to be independent. For that to happen, I had to be prepared to fail. It was worth it. I have lots of plans for this project and this is only the start. I had sleepless nights, it didn’t help that I got really bad sunburn (the worst that I have ever had) and couldn’t sleep for about 4 days anyway, but that gave me plenty of time to think and plan. Naturally, to worry too. That is only normal. If you are not worried, you are doing it wrong.

I submitted my project to Kickstarter and tweaked it over several weeks before hitting publish. I asked people I trusted and respected for feedback. I told friends, some thought it was exciting, others were aghast and thought it was too high risk and questioned why I was rejecting the traditional route. Some thought that I was asking for too much, others not enough. I decided to stop asking people and just focus on what I thought was right, what I thought it needed and also what might work.

I studied successful food (and other) Kickstarter projects, how they communicated their message, the reward levels they offered. I looked at projects that hadn’t succeeded to see the other side. I planned out my reward levels saving the products for the last week and a final push (they were always going to be in there, I could see that successful projects add exciting incentives later so I decided to do this).

Project: BACON funding overview

Project: BACON funding overview

I still made several mistakes however. Here is what I learned, and I hope that this helps you.

Be realistic and don’t be greedy. I only ever aimed for enough to cover the costs of production (this does not include my personal or living costs). I hope to make my money from this book by selling the ebook when it comes out next year. Anything over would have been a bonus, and while I did get £4K over, this is going directly into Bacon Box design and production as more than I imagined wanted those. But that opens other doors – which I was hoping might open – so I am very excited about this.

Offer something tangible and real. Lots of projects offer links and shout outs for early reward levels, personally I don’t see the value of these. If I commit to a project, I want to be part of it, I want something real and I want updates. This is why I offered The Bacon Post at the £3 level. It wasn’t heavily subscribed but I wanted everyone to feel part of it if they wanted to, no matter what their financial situation. Offering 10 new recipes as part of this process allows people to see progress and feel part of it, and everyone who kicked in will get it. So that is 740 people. Which is great.

Do make a video. Don’t make that video in your back garden on the hottest day of the year and in the middle of it, with watering itchy eyes and hay fever with your friend standing on a chair videoing it while you are both drinking wine (although thank you Denise, I am very grateful, and I owe you one). Give everyone an insight on you, your project and your story through the video. Mine should have involved some cooking and some tasting. I had planned two further videos but life compressed and didn’t allow it. This is otherwise known as bad planning.

Update your project very regularly. Add more videos and imagery. I didn’t do this. I should have.

Clear your diary for your funding period and give it all of your energy. I wanted to do this but other things came up. This couldn’t be helped but it wasn’t ideal. I still gave it everything I had. Even if at times it didn’t look like it, I was always planning and sketching.

Do some design work up front so that people can relate to your product and more importantly, want to have it. I should have designed the cover before launching the project so that people could visualise the book. I didn’t.

Do create infographics. Successful projects look great and are very well put together (generally). Lots of them have infographics. Again, I didn’t but I think you should.

Start a PR campaign early. I didn’t, I didn’t have one at all. This was a mistake. I had always planned to start pushing it in the second half of the project as I didn’t want to tire people, bore people or wear people out. This was a bad attitude. I now know that people want you to succeed and really get behind you to help make it happen. I should have been contacting the media in the UK from the day I launched to get the word out there and reach lots of different people. I should have written a press release. Successful projects do, some even have PR representation.

Regular pledges keep your project active so figure out ways to keep bringing people in. Busy projects sit on the popular projects page and attract attention from people on Kickstarter who otherwise wouldn’t see your project at all. This ties into PR activity and is especially important in that tumbleweed infested wasteland in the middle.

THE GOOD STUFF

Independence. I succeeded and I feel like a door has opened. I feel very good about the world and all that is in it. Thank you.

Restored faith in human nature. I work in a very isolated way, which isn’t terribly healthy, at least for me. I had such immense positive and supportive contact from people that really wanted this project to succeed that it reminded me about all of the good things about what I do, and why I love it. Again, thank you.

I am excited that you will be following the journey from the beginning to the end and I will be asking for your input too at points, of course only if you want to give it.

GETTING INVOLVED

Now, some of you are still trying to pledge on Kickstarter. You can’t. But if you want to subscribe to any level still, please email me and we can work something out.

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Project: BACON is GO – thank you – but there is more that we can do!

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So I hit 100% this morning, which is amazing. Not just that, it is a relief and it is so exciting. I can’t wait to get stuck in.

Thanks for the support and joining me on this crazy little ride. I have been so touched by how brilliant people have been, the kind messages, tweets and emails that you have sent, and all that you have done to help me get my message out.

I am not going to add stretch goals at this point, with 22 hours to go, but suffice to say that all extra pledged means an even better book with more illustrations and photographs. The writing stays the same but in an even shinier coat.

I also have great plans for the Bacon Christmas & Halloween Boxes. I want to make them really special and a real treat for anyone who receives them. A flash of childhood through adult eyes, but more delicious. I already know the design but I need to get a designer to realise it fully and extra pledges will help make that happen.

Also – just a reminder – if you want a print copy of this book, there is no guarantee at this point that it will happen outside of Kickstarter, so pledge now to make sure you receive it. It is unlikely the Bacon Boxes will be available outside of this too – at least at this side of Christmas.

Thanks again, and here is to the next 22 hours. Nearly there, even though I kind of am already. It is still – always – exciting.

Niamh